Articles Posted in Virginia Supreme Court

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These consolidated appeals arose from a final determination of the State Corporation Commission in a mandated biennial review of the rates, terms, and conditions for the provision of generation, distribution and transmission services of an electric utility. As pertinent here, commencing in 2011, the Virginia Electric Utility Regulation Act required the Commission to conduct biennial reviews of an electric utility's performance during the two successive twelve-month periods immediately prior to such reviews pursuant to Va. Code Ann. 56-585.1(A). At issue in this appeal was whether in the 2011 biennial review of the performance of Virginia Electric and Power Company in the 2009-2010 test period the Commission erred in determining that the utility's authorized fair rate of return on common equity of 10.9 percent would apply to the entire 2011-2012 test period in the next biennial review in 2013. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the Commission's construction of Code 56-585.1 was based upon the proper application of legal principles, and the Commission did not abuse the discretion afforded to it under that statute. View "Va. Elec. & Power Co. v. State Corp. Comm'n" on Justia Law

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In this appeal, Appalachian Power Company (APCO) sought rate adjustment clause recovery of $33.3 million in environmental compliance costs that the State Corporation Commission denied. The Supreme Court reversed in part, affirmed in part, and remanded, holding (1) APCO was entitled to a rate adjustment clause for recovery of actual costs it directly incurred for environmental compliance in 2009 and 2010 but did not recover through its base rates, and the portion of the Commission's decision denying recovery of environmental compliance costs on the basis that those costs were connected with projects included in APCO's base rates which APCO had the opportunity to recover was reversed; and (2) the portion of the Commission's decision denying APCO recovery of environmental compliance costs alleged to be embedded in the capacity equalization charges APCO paid to its affiliates in 2009 and 2010 was affirmed. Remanded. View "Appalachian Power Co. v. State Corp. Comm'n" on Justia Law

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In this action, the trial court granted summary judgment against a locality, holding it liable to landowners under the State Water Control Law, Va. Code Ann. 62.1-44.2 through -44.34:28, in particular Code 62.1-44.34:18(C) of the Oil Discharge Law, for the contamination of groundwater by leachate and landfill gas. The Supreme Court reversed the trial court's judgment, holding that the trial court erred in awarding summary judgment to the landowners and finding the locality liable under the Oil Discharge Law, as the Oil Discharge Law does not apply to the passive, gradual seepage of leachate and landfill gas into groundwater. View "Campbell County v. Royal" on Justia Law

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At issue in this case was whether the court of appeals erred in (1) reversing a circuit court's judgment and applying the arbitrary and capricious standard of review to the State Water Control Board's decision to reissue a Virginia pollutant discharge elimination system permit to Virginia Electric and Power Company for its nuclear power station; and (2) reversing the circuit court and affirming the Board's determination that the discharge of heated water from the station into a waste heat treatment facility, classified as a "waste treatment facility" under state and federal regulations, did not require a separate discharge permit. For the reasons stated in Commonwealth v. Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League, Inc., the Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals. View "Blue Ridge Envtl. Defense League v. Commonwealth" on Justia Law

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Kivalina, a native community located on an Alaskan barrier island, filed a lawsuit (Complaint) in a California district court against The AES Corporation, a Virginia-based energy company, and numerous other defendants for allegedly damaging the community by causing global warming through emission of greenhouse gases. Steadfast Insurance, which provided commercial general liability (CGL) to AES, provided AES a defense under a reservation of rights. Later AES filed a declaratory judgment action, claiming it did not owe AES a defense or indemnity coverage in the underlying suit. The circuit court granted Steadfast's motion for summary judgment, holding that the Complaint did not allege an "occurrence" as that term was defined in AES's contracts of insurance with Steadfast, and that Steadfast, therefore, did not owe AES a defense or liability coverage. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Kivalina did not allege that its property damage was the result of a fortuitous event or accident, but rather that its damages were the natural and probable consequence of AES's intentional actions, and such loss was not covered under the relevant CGL policies. View "AES Corp. v. Steadfast Ins. Co." on Justia Law